Canary Wharf gets the Wi-Fi treatment

Mobile workers in Docklands will soon be able to get high-speed wireless access from the bars and shops surrounding the UK's highest buildings

London's Canary Wharf is set to become Europe's largest Wi-Fi-enabled business district.

The Cloud, which is rolling out public-access wireless networks across the UK, announced on Monday that it is deploying a Wi-Fi network across the estate which is home to companies such as HSBC, Citigroup and the Telegraph Group.

The network, which should be completed by the end of September, will span 97 acres. It will cover the space around 1 Canada Square — the tower formerly known as Canary Wharf — including several underground retail spaces, restaurants, bars, gardens, promenades and other public spaces.

However, the network will not reach into the offices within 1 Canada Square. A spokesman for The Cloud explained that the network is for public access only and that it won't interfere with nearby corporate networks.

The Cloud won't sell access to the network itself. Instead, users will have to turn to a wireless access provider such as BT Openzone, O2 or Boingo, who all have roaming deals with The Cloud.

Commercial Wi-Fi hot spots first appeared in the UK in 2002, after the government legalised this wider use of the 2.4GHz spectrum. The focus then was on small networks, often using a single access point, in a coffee shop or sandwich bar.

Over time, though, operators have looked to construct increasingly larger networks, such as Broadreach's Wi-Fi hot zone in the West End of London, which stretches for 500m, or the mile-long hot zone created by Islington Council earlier this year..

Last week, Intel led a group of IT firms who want to encourage cities to deploy wireless networks.